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James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted for offences related to the unlawful import or export of illicit drugs in each of the last 10 years. 
Maria Eagle: Data showing the number of people proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts of importation and exportation of illicit drugs from 1997 to 2006 in England and Wales is contained in the table.
The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
|Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for the unlawful importation and exportation of drugs( 1) , England and Wales, 1997 to 2006( 2,)( )( 3,)( )( 4)|
|(1) Includes selected offences under SS 50 and 68 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and under section 19(a) and 19(b) of the Criminal Justice (internal Co-Operation) Act 1990.|
(2) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(3) Every effort is made to ensure that-the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
(4) The number of defendants found guilty in a particular year may exceed those proceeded against, as it may be the case that the proceedings in the magistrates court took place in the preceding year and they were found guilty at the Crown Court in the following year, or the defendants was found guilty for a different offence to the original offence proceeded against.
Mr. Straw: Assisting another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide is an offence in this country. Whether terminally ill people should have the right to seek medical assistance to die is a controversial issue, which deeply divides public opinion. The Government believe that any change to the law in this area is an issue of individual conscience and hence a matter for Parliament to decide rather than Government policy. It has been debated in Parliament on a number of occasions but none of the private Members Bills has progressed further than Second Reading.
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 1031W, to the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Todd) and my answer of 17 October 2008, Official Report, column l506W, to the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham).
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what advice his Department has issued to other Government departments on the applicability of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to messages sent by means of an instant message system; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice has not issued any advice to other Government Departments on instant message systems and its applicability to the Freedom of Information Act. If information is held by a public authority it will be subject to the provisions under the Act in the usual way.
The Prison Service Standard and Prison Service Order on Religion provide details of the practice of religion in prisons. As part of the multi-faith chaplaincy team at Whitemoor, a full-time Muslim Chaplain is employed to meet the religious needs of Muslim prisoners. Friday prayers are provided weekly led by the Muslim Chaplain. In addition the Muslim Chaplain provides religious instruction classes. Arrangements are also made by Whitemoor for prisoners to be able to observe the religious festivals appropriate to their particular religion.
The facilities list allows prisoners to wear specific cultural clothing and to have specific cultural items in possession should they wish to do so. In developing menus account is taken of the medical and cultural needs of all prisoners. In the case of Muslim prisoners a halal menu option is provided. Prisoners are also permitted to cook for themselves on certain residential areas of the prison.
Mr. Wills: The Human Rights Insight Project, carried out from December 2004 to July 2006, was an extensive piece of original qualitative and quantitative research aimed at assessing awareness of and attitudes towards human rights, the Human Rights Act and its underlying principles among both the general public and front-line staff in specified public services. The findings of the research have been important in informing policy development in this area and using human rights principles to improve the delivery of public services. The cost was £200,000 over the period 2004-06.
Data on the number of active members in the Judicial Pension Scheme are available in the published resource accounts. As at 31 March 2007 there were 2,101 active members. Copies of the accounts are held in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many pages of original documentation the Land Registry plans to destroy in November 2009; what criteria are being used to decide which documents to dispose of; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: The Land Registration Rules 2003 distinguish between documents kept by the registrar on 13 October 2003 (when the 2002 Act came into force) on which an entry in the register of title is or was founded, and documents that accompany an application made under the Land Registration Act 2002 which the registrar has decided to retain.
In the case of documents within (a), the 2003 rules provided for a five-year period, which ended on 12 October 2008, during which certain persons (such as the current registered owners) were entitled to request the return of a document. Subject to any outstanding request, the registrar may now destroy any document within (a) if he is satisfied that he has retained a copy of the document, or further retention of the document is unnecessary. The most important documents within (a) have already been electronically scanned which means that a full copy of each document is available for public inspection.
Land Registry will shortly issue a notice on their website, accompanied by press releases and notices to key stakeholders explaining that after a three month-period it will commence destroying the originals of these scanned documents. It is estimated that at least 5.5 million documents (or 35 million pages) will be affected.
In the case of documents within (b), the applicant has a choice at the outset whether to have the document returned. If the applicant requests the return of a document and provides a certified copy, the original is returned. The registrar may destroy the document if he is satisfied that either he has retained a sufficient copy (typically by scanning it) of the document or further retention is unnecessary.
Mr. Wills: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor (Jack Straw) said in the debate on the publication of the White Paper, Party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom, on 16 June 2008, Official Report, column 695, release of these papers is a matter for Sir Hayden Phillips. Sir Hayden indicated before Public Bill Committee on 4 November 2008 that he is actively considering the issue.
Mr. Wills: The Political Parties and Elections Bill is intended to implement a number of the proposals in the Governments White Paper, Party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom. It also contains two reforms deigned to assist the administration of electoral registration and of European Parliament elections.
The Government have put in place a number of measures to strengthen the security of the electoral system, in particular postal voting, through the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and associated secondary legislation. This includes the introduction of a system of personal identifiers for postal voters to ensure that postal votes counted at an election are valid. We believe that these measures are helping to reduce the number and scale of allegations of electoral offences.
The Electoral Commissions separate reports on the introduction of absent voting personal identifiers in England and Wales and on the May 2007 local government elections note that the introduction of personal identifiers for postal voters has had a positive impact on the safety and security of the electoral system, and that at the 2007 elections, the scale and volume of allegations of offences were both considerably down on 2006. More recently, the Electoral Commission concluded in its report on the May 2008 local elections in England that the available information suggests that the scale and volume of allegations of offences during the elections in May 2008 were down on 2007.
Mr. Wills: Sir Hayden Phillipss final report, published in March 2007, explicitly acknowledged the problem of unregulated spending at a constituency level. His preferred solution was to set spending limits to embrace all national and local party spending. The White Paper, Party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom (CM7329), published in June 2008, makes clear that the Government broadly support the principle of an all-encompassing spending limit, but that we believe there are a number of practical concerns that would need to be addressed before this could be introduced. Given that cross-party support for Sir Hayden Phillips fundamental package of reforms is not yet forthcoming, the Government have therefore proposed a return to the principle of triggering.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether campaign expenditure funded by political parties and incurred by hon. Members promoting their role as a Member of Parliament, outside a general election period, will be considered as local campaigning expenditure for the purposes of the new trigger rules; 
(3) at what point (a) local association campaigning, (b) third party campaigning and (c) national party campaigning in a locality is proposed to be classified as local candidate spending for the purposes of the proposed new election trigger rules; 
(4) whether direct mail correspondence to individual voters from (a) trades unions and (b) central political parties which does not mention local candidates will be considered local candidate expenditure for the purposes of the new election trigger rules. 
Mr. Wills: The proposal to reintroduce triggering in relation to the candidate expenditure limitcontained in clause 10 of the Political Parties and Elections Bill (Bill 141)will not alter the types of spending that do and do not count against the candidate expenditure limit. Rather, the proposal will alter the time period over which such expenditure is regulated. The key effect of the clause is to remove the requirement that only expenditure used after the date of Dissolution of Parliament is regulated by the expenditure limit. As is currently the case, expenses used by or on behalf of the candidate on matters listed in part 1 of schedule 4A of the Representation of the People Act, which are for the purposes of the candidates election will be regulated by the candidate spending limit. The point at which such expenses will count against the limit is the point at which expenses are used for the purposes of the candidates election. As is currently the case, national party campaigning in a constituency or locality will not count against a candidates expenditure limit.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what consideration he gave to undertaking a formal consultation on his Department's proposals to introduce new trigger rules for local candidate expenditure. 
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